How To Create a Bibiliography for a Term Paper

A bibliography is written as an addendum to any literary or academic writing such as books, articles, research papers, school or college essays or papers, etc. A typical bibliography lists the various sources - books, articles, newspapers, reference and research papers, internet, etc - from which you have cited or quoted information as part of any literary or writing project that you've worked on. It is critically important to always list a bibliography with your writing, firstly to avoid allegations of plagiarism, secondly to validate the accuracy and authenticity of the information provided. Readers of your work will also be able to resource more information should they need it, based on the bibliography you've provided. Listed below are the various steps in preparing a good bibliography.

Step 1

Keep track of sources. When you begin researching for information on your chosen subject for writing, start keeping a preliminary list of the sources you're collating the information from.

Step 2

Details to record. When noting down the sources, ensure that you record all necessary details such as title of work, author, page or chapter numbers from which the information is cited and publication details including the year. Listing of the sources should be in alphabetical order by author's last name. If there is no author for the source cited, you can list the titles in alphabetical order.

Step 3

Rules for recording details. As mentioned above, sources should be cited in alphabetical order, either by author's last name or by title; if you're citing multiple works from the same author, the name should be listed just once, in the first entry, and the individual works should be in alphabetical order. Use double-spacing between lines in a single entry and between different entries. Highlight independently published sources by using underlines or italics, quote marks should be used for titles of short writings, such a poems, stories, etc.

Step 4

Formats for bibliography. Since most bibliographies are created for academic or research writing, over a period of time, some formats have become established as standards for creating specific types of bibliographies. The four main types of formats are: (a) Modern Language Association of America (MLA) format; (b) American Psychological Association (APA) format; (c) Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) format; and (d) Council of Science Editors or Council of Biology Editors as it was earlier known, CBE being the abbreviation still being used. As is obvious from the names, these formats have grown into established rules particular to writing works specific of an academic subject or science.

Step 5

Basic guidelines for each format. Each of the four formats listed above have their own terminology and formatting requirements, which are listed here in brief: (a) MLA: The bibliography is termed "works cited", starts on a fresh page at the end of the written work, double spacing is used, every word in the title of a source should be capitalized, except for conjunctions, unless they are the first word in the title. (b) APA: bibliography is listed as "list of references", the page is titled as ‘references' at the top and middle of the page, longer works such as books or journals should be in italics. (c) CMOS: similar to the APA style, in that only the first word of the title is capitalized. (d) CBE: this style is used mostly for writing on scientific subjects; the bibliography begins on the same page as the reset of the content, should be single-spaced and should be listed in order of appearance in the main body of work.

The activity of writing a bibliography may appear complicated and tedious from the above description, but it is actually very easy to master. You may be quite slow when you first start creating a bibliography, but a couple of them later, you'll actually find yourself writing bibliographies like a pro!!


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